Creaghan's understated portrait of an isolated, retired teacher at the end of his long life was a masterful, moving performance, the centerpiece of a lovely production that was the highlight of the Caldwell season. A New York City veteran of stage and television, Creaghan recently appeared in Neil Simon's latest Broadway production, 45 Seconds to Broadway, and in a long list of theaters across the country. Though Creaghan is no stranger to Florida stages -- he performed at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and at the old Planetarium in the late 1970s and early '80s -- Park Your Car is Creaghan's first area appearance since that time. Let's hope we'll be seeing a lot more of him in future South Florida productions.
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre
South Florida is blessed with an abundance of theater for kids, but none tops the Actors' Playhouse, which takes children's theater very seriously. For starters, the playhouse, one of the area's major professional companies, has created an entirely separate children's division, led by peripatetic artistic director Earl Maulding, that produces a full season of plays for children as well as provides classes and workshops. Maulding and Executive Director Barbara Stein really aim for excellence, hiring experienced professional actors and designers to staff their children's shows. Then there's the company's National Children's Theatre Festival, which holds a national competition for new children's plays and stages a spectacular weekend event for the winner's world premiere. Finally, there's the context of all of this: Children who come watch the plays often discover they want to attend the main-stage adult fare the playhouse offers. Some kids from the training program end up on stage themselves in the big playhouse musicals like this season's The Sound Of Music. All in all, the Actors' Playhouse not only offers the best in children's entertainment but it also provides South Florida with an important cultural service by nurturing the audiences of tomorrow.
South Florida is blessed with an abundance of theater for kids, but none tops the Actors' Playhouse, which takes children's theater very seriously. For starters, the playhouse, one of the area's major professional companies, has created an entirely separate children's division, led by peripatetic artistic director Earl Maulding, that produces a full season of plays for children as well as provides classes and workshops. Maulding and Executive Director Barbara Stein really aim for excellence, hiring experienced professional actors and designers to staff their children's shows. Then there's the company's National Children's Theatre Festival, which holds a national competition for new children's plays and stages a spectacular weekend event for the winner's world premiere. Finally, there's the context of all of this: Children who come watch the plays often discover they want to attend the main-stage adult fare the playhouse offers. Some kids from the training program end up on stage themselves in the big playhouse musicals like this season's The Sound Of Music. All in all, the Actors' Playhouse not only offers the best in children's entertainment but it also provides South Florida with an important cultural service by nurturing the audiences of tomorrow.
Simply put, this guy is a one-man repertory company. The chameleon-like Kwiat, who appears regularly in many local theaters, is a director's dream: He can take the tiniest role and turn it into a perfectly realized character. Some of his recent work was memorable -- the brooding Irish drinker in The Weir and the embittered Yiddish actor in Smithereens, both at New Theatre, as well as his hilarious cameos in Comic Potential at Actors' Playhouse. But it was GableStage's Dirty Blonde that really turned into a Kwiat riot, turning in one carefully etched characterization after another.

Simply put, this guy is a one-man repertory company. The chameleon-like Kwiat, who appears regularly in many local theaters, is a director's dream: He can take the tiniest role and turn it into a perfectly realized character. Some of his recent work was memorable -- the brooding Irish drinker in The Weir and the embittered Yiddish actor in Smithereens, both at New Theatre, as well as his hilarious cameos in Comic Potential at Actors' Playhouse. But it was GableStage's Dirty Blonde that really turned into a Kwiat riot, turning in one carefully etched characterization after another.

De Acha has long been producing solidly professional work, but lately his talents have really blossomed. In one production after another this season -- Hamlet, Anna in the Tropics, Madame Melville, The Credeaux Canvas -- his staging has been consistently subtle, sensual, literate, evocative, and (most important) clear. De Acha has shown an exceptional ability to bring a play's text and subtext to theatrical life. It's no wonder so many writers enjoy working with him. The courtly Cuban-born, New York City-trained director is also a master of musicality, using elements of rhythm, tone, and harmonics in his productions. Hardly surprising, as he's also an experienced opera director.
De Acha has long been producing solidly professional work, but lately his talents have really blossomed. In one production after another this season -- Hamlet, Anna in the Tropics, Madame Melville, The Credeaux Canvas -- his staging has been consistently subtle, sensual, literate, evocative, and (most important) clear. De Acha has shown an exceptional ability to bring a play's text and subtext to theatrical life. It's no wonder so many writers enjoy working with him. The courtly Cuban-born, New York City-trained director is also a master of musicality, using elements of rhythm, tone, and harmonics in his productions. Hardly surprising, as he's also an experienced opera director.
Talk about contradictions: The most dazzling performance of the season was Alicia Roper in what had to be the mousiest role of the year. In her Florida debut, Roper triumphed as Bonnie Schwartz, a horribly repressed, desperate-to-please neurotic whose self-effacing front masked a seething stew of emotions. Roper managed not only to make everything crystal clear but her performance was also very, very funny. A Broadway veteran and Yale Drama School graduate, Roper has a detailed, emotionally grounded acting style and a cool, blond look reminiscent of another Yale alumna, Meryl Streep. Roper is now back in New York City and on to other projects, but perhaps we'll see her back here again in future Florida Stage productions.

Talk about contradictions: The most dazzling performance of the season was Alicia Roper in what had to be the mousiest role of the year. In her Florida debut, Roper triumphed as Bonnie Schwartz, a horribly repressed, desperate-to-please neurotic whose self-effacing front masked a seething stew of emotions. Roper managed not only to make everything crystal clear but her performance was also very, very funny. A Broadway veteran and Yale Drama School graduate, Roper has a detailed, emotionally grounded acting style and a cool, blond look reminiscent of another Yale alumna, Meryl Streep. Roper is now back in New York City and on to other projects, but perhaps we'll see her back here again in future Florida Stage productions.

Morgan has long been a well-known and well-liked actress on the local scene, but her work this season really showed off her range of skills. The British-born actress recently knocked off the crotchety Scottish housekeeper Mrs. Hudson in Sherlock's Last Case for Actors' Playhouse, plus some bizarre comedic cameos as an android actress and a wacky wigged hooker in Comic Potential, also at AP. And her work in Tom Walker for the New Theatre was a range in itself -- playing Tom's nightmare of a harridan wife and doubling as his new love, the harried Widow Baine. While Morgan has been lauded for each of these performances, it's the span of her abilities that's really remarkable. Some actors do well by playing the same role over and over. Lisa Morgan is never the same twice.

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